The Corsican Caper
Sam Levitt is a gentleman of some high degree of wealth and leisure who engages in eating, drinking and (monogamous) wenching around the world as his whimsy might take him. His friends, by amazing coincidence, are astronomically wealthy as well. They occasionally have serious problems, and Levitt always has a solution.
There may be a degree of danger involved, as occurs in THE CORSICAN CAPER, author Peter Mayle’s 2014 entry in the series, but it never spoils the scenery (well, not for long anyway), and it certainly doesn’t cause any dyspepsia among the participants, who have no trouble dining on dishes that in most cases you have never heard of, let alone sampled. To put it another way, THE CORSICAN CAPER is a dim, if not dark, side of the lifestyles of the very rich, but not enough to raise your pulse appreciably.
"THE CORSICAN CAPER...is a fun book with just enough suspense and intrigue to hold one’s interest while showing a world that few of its potential readers will experience."
What you will appreciate is Mayle’s descriptive prose and enjoyable plotting. This is a real world book. The unimaginably rich have problems, even if they are very different from you and me. Like you and me, though, their problems are often created by other unimaginably rich people. As a result, the plot in THE CORSICAN CAPER is a very basic one. Francis Reboul, a billionaire friend of Levitt’s, owns, among many other things, a beautiful and majestic seaside villa. Oleg Vronsky, a Russian tycoon/crime lord, spots it one day while house hunting from his super-sized yacht. There is a direct line between Vronsky seeing Reboul’s home villa and wanting to own it. Vronsky makes an extremely generous offer, but Reboul isn’t selling. Vronsky doesn’t like being told “no,” while Reboul doesn’t like being told what to do; it’s the case of the immovable object and irresistible force.
Levitt, of course, just happens to arrive on the scene with Elena Morales, his fetching significant other, and comes to the aid of his good friend, Reboul. It is discovered in due course that people who do business with Vronsky have a life expectancy that ends somewhat short of actuarial predictions, so Levitt devises a plan utilizing means legal and otherwise to divert Vronsky’s attention away from Reboul’s villa and to remove him from the board. After all, the first asparagus of the season is just beginning to appear on plates in the local restaurants. Vronsky is killing the mood.
Gentle kidding aside, THE CORSICAN CAPER, like its siblings, is a fun book with just enough suspense and intrigue to hold one’s interest while showing a world that few of its potential readers will experience. Exotic settings and interesting characters dip and swirl throughout, and while Mayle’s knowledge of exotic food and drink seems to exceed his knowledge of weapons by just a bit (the Glock 23 does not possess an external safety), you’ll barely notice the occasional gaffe in that regard. In addition to this embarrassment of riches, one of Mayle’s greatest strengths (and it is a considerable one) is that he does not pad his story. THE CORSICAN CAPER is not a long book, but it’s precisely long enough. While it’s complete in itself, you will be counting the days until the next installment in the Levitt saga is released.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on June 27, 2014